The co-op store in the village of Shepley has traded as the village store for more than 160 years.
Unfortunately, due to changes in the way people shop, overall competition and an offer that no longer meets the real needs of the families in the village, the store has sadly been losing considerable amounts of money for a considerable number of years.
In many ways the store remains at the heart of the village and this was no more evident than at last night’s Special General Meeting. This was held in the beautiful village church of St.Paul’s where an estimated 150 people were in attendance.
It is clear that people in the village DO want a village store but this desire alone will not ensure its long term sustainability. What is needed is a strong offer in the store – the right products at the right price – not easy to achieve in a small store with limited buying power and limited space to stock all the lines that people ‘want’.
The meeting was very well attended – as mentioned, around 150 people were there and of those, over 110 were entitled to vote.
We heard from the management committee (who are all volunteers) how they had been working hard since joining earlier this year to find a viable long term solution.
To ensure we don’t lose the store and end up with a boarded-up eyesore in the village centre there needs to be significant investment!
This cannot be achieved from the current assets of the Shepley village co-op and as such a merger has been sought.
Passions and opinions were running high and the attendees made very clear that they needed reassurances from Martyn Cheatle who was attending in his role as Chief Executive Officer of the Midlands Co-op.
Here’s a link to the Midlands co-op website – http://www.midlands.coop/
These assurances must have been received as in excess of 90% of the votes were in favour of the proposed merger. (A two thirds majority was the minimum requirement so, well above this!)
What next for the Co-op?
Midlands Co-op will continue their due diligence of the business and in two weeks, following co-operative movement legislation, we will be attending the next meeting at Shepley Methodist Church on Wednesday 10thnJuly at 7pm. This will be to hear a further update from the Midlands Co-op and then vote again on the merger proposal.
A final point…
At the heart of the matter we mustn’t forget the small team of people who work at the Shepley village co-op will have their jobs secured and in the current economy that has to be applauded.
I for one am looking forward to shopping in OUR village store for many years to come.